Prom’s Not Canceled This Year, But It Won’t Be Normal, Either

March 17, 2021
Hugo Huitron, Philippe Michel, Gabriel Lopez, Delilah SantosHugo Huitron, Philippe Michel, Gabriel Lopez, Delilah SantosMark J. Terrill/AP Photo
Gabriel Lopez and Delilah Santos have their pictures and video taken by Philippe Michel, left, and Hugo Huitron, right, in front of the home of Diane Scott during the coronavirus outbreak, Saturday, May 16, 2020, in Los Angeles. Scott, who owns a party and event planning business called "Just RSVP Events," put the decorations on her front lawn because she wanted to do something for the 2020 graduates that were not able to attend their own graduation or prom.

Rowan Walker-Gilman wasn’t much for large groups and school dances, but she decided she’d go to her junior prom this year with some friends. Then the coronavirus pandemic persisted, and she realized it won’t be a normal Cherry Creek High School prom. 

“It's frustrating that it's not going to be, you know, the whole high school prom experience, at least not right now,” she said. “But I also think that it's for the best at this point.”

Walker-Gilman said she’d rather be safe than sorry, and for her, that means an outdoor prom, because an all Zoom prom? Doesn’t sound like much fun. 

“I think that would be one of the more awkward things to take place just overall,” she said. “There are going to be people who show up and are ready to go, they're like all dressed up and taking it seriously. And then there are going to be people who are not doing that.” 

Rowan Walker-Gilman, a junior at Cherry Creek High School, riding on Blue the horse.

She and her classmates are waiting on guidance from their principal who’s expected to send out a plan any day now. The prom date hasn’t been set yet, but she thinks it will be late April. Last year, Cherry Creek High School prom was canceled. Instead, it was part virtual and the school made a video for the graduating class.

State guidelines on how to do prom safely were released this week by the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment. They advise keeping prom as virtual as possible, but if gathering in person, then students should only mingle closely with 10 other students in a pod and wear masks throughout the event, especially while dancing. 

The guidelines also say not to eat at the prom and strongly advise prom organizers to plan it as an outdoor event. As vaccines roll-out across the state — more than one-fifth of the state has received at least the first dose — restrictions are easing. The health department is still asking that people follow precautions to prevent the spread of the disease, but more people are returning to school, work, restaurants, gyms and the like. 

Walker-Gilman thinks an outdoor prom on the grounds of Cherry Creek High School would be fun, but there is one potential hang-up: the geese. 

“This is going to sound kind of silly,” she said. “But my biggest concern, and it's an issue for a lot of people, would be the geese, and it sounds so dumb saying it out loud, but we have geese on our campus that, like, chase people.” 

She says campus security carry around water squirt guns to spray the geese and keep them from chasing students. But, the geese and COVID-19 aside, she’s looking forward to the dance and hoping it will be fun. It’s going to be her first prom.

Now she just had to decide what to wear, and will her mask match her outfit? 

“That's the real question right now,” she said. “The friend group that I would be going with, this is something that is very important to them. So chances are yes — matching will be happening.”